Log In

Reset Password

New Mexico attorney general working with Jack Smith to investigate fake elector scheme

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the media about an indictment of former President Donald Trump on Aug. 1 at an office of the Department of Justice in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press
Office cites evidence about New Mexico in special prosecutor’s indictment of Trump; Eastman attorney’s call latest indictment ‘a legal cluster bomb’

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has been tight-lipped about the progress of their investigation into former President Donald Trump’s allies in New Mexico.

Following Trump’s federal indictment on charges that he illegally sought to overturn the 2020 election, the attorney general’s office has revealed it is working with special counsel Jack Smith’s team to gather evidence related to the investigation.

Lauren Rodriguez, director of communications for New Mexico’s attorney general, said in a statement that the previous Attorney General Hector Balderas referred the fake elector case to the Department of Justice.

Current AG Raúl Torrez opened a separate state investigation into the scheme. The office has been in regular contact with the federal Department of Justice regarding New Mexico’s fake electors, Rodriguez said.

“That inquiry is ongoing and now that Special Counsel Jack Smith has unsealed a federal indictment referencing specific conduct in New Mexico, we will work with his office to obtain any and all evidence relevant to the state’s inquiry,” Rodriguez said in the statement.

Rodriguez did not respond to questions seeking additional information about the status of those cases.

The allegations related to New Mexico in Smith’s federal indictment of Trump center around the fake elector scheme, a last-ditch effort by Trump and his alleged co-conspirators to submit fraudulent electoral votes falsely claiming that he, and not Joe Biden, had won the election.

Trump and his allies sought to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to use the fake electoral votes as a basis for throwing out the legitimate election results and declaring Trump the victor during Congressional proceedings on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the indictment.

Central to the fake-elector plot, according to the federal indictment as well as the Jan. 6 Commission’s final report and Georgia’s newly unveiled state charges against Trump and 18 others, was Santa Fe-based attorney John Eastman.

“As January 6th approached, John Eastman and others devised a plan whereby Vice President Mike Pence would, as the presiding officer, declare that certain electoral votes from certain States could not be counted at the joint session,” the Jan. 6 Commission wrote in their report. “John Eastman knew before proposing this plan that it was not legal.”

Attorney John Eastman, the architect of a legal strategy aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in power, listens to his lawyer, Randall Miller, after a hearing in Los Angeles on June 20. EaJae C. Hong/The Associated Press

On Monday, Fulton County, Ga. District Attorney Fani Willis announced charges against Eastman, Trump and 17 others, accusing Eastman of forming part of an organized criminal enterprise dedicated to subverting American democracy.

Eastman faces nine charges under Georgia state law, including filing false documents and conspiracy to commit forgery.

Eastman’s name is not mentioned in the special counsel’s federal indictment of Trump, but he is repeatedly referenced under the moniker “Co-Conspirator 2.” He is not charged with any crimes in that case, but the indictment asserts that he knew his fake-elector scheme violated the Electoral Count Act.

Eastman is also facing the prospect of losing his license to practice law in California, and has sought to delay the disbarment proceedings against him in that state until his criminal charges are resolved. He is a resident of Santa Fe, but has never been licensed to practice law in New Mexico.

Eastman could not be reached for comment, but he has denounced Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump on social media.

Two attorneys representing Eastman, Harvey Silverglate and Charles Burnham, sent a statement to Source NM calling the Georgia prosecution “a legal cluster bomb” and vowing that Eastman will fight the charges.

Trump’s false claims about election fraud have found widespread purchase in the Republican Party of New Mexico.

GOP Secretary of State candidate Audrey Trujillo, who lost her election last year, centered her campaign around false claims that the election was stolen from Trump, and county commissioners in several New Mexico counties refused to certify election results last year, citing false claims of possible election fraud.

Failed NM House of Representatives candidate Solomon Peña has been charged with allegedly orchestrating a shooting spree targeting New Mexico democrats. Prosecutors allege those shootings were motivated by false election-fraud conspiracy theories.

Georgia’s indictment of Trump and his allies includes three of the 16 fake electors from that state.

Michigan’s attorney general recently announced charges against all 16 of that state’s fake electors.

The charges against Eastman and other states’ fake electors have raised the question among many New Mexicans of whether the Attorney General will charge Eastman or the state’s five fake electors.

In the statement provided to Source NM, Rodriguez of the AG’s office did not provide a timeline for the investigation, or say when New Mexicans might expect charging decisions to be announced.

“Our paramount concern is to gather a complete factual record before making any formal decision in this matter and to coordinate our efforts with our federal law enforcement partners in a manner that best secures the public’s faith in the integrity of the electoral process,” she said.